For the whole month of October we have been avoiding buying groceries (with the exception of staples like bread and milk and such). We ordered the angel food ministries food boxes (which we got today) in the beginning of the month and about a week ago started running short on suppers and wanted to live off what we had until the food boxes came in.
Being an engineer and slightly (or a lot) OCD, I like lists… they help me think. The pantry and freezer was looking pretty bare already. It had been about a month already (since mid-sept) living on “what we had” and the meals were getting hard to put together on a whim when the stomach was growling after work.
So I took a notebook and inventoried every frozen item and every pantry item we had. For example, 2x cans of mushrooms, 4x cans of chicken, 3lbs frozen corn… etc.
I then used the master list of what we had and started listing all the possible meals using the ingredients using portions of what was available. I was hoping that I could at least be come up with a weeks worth of odd-ball suppers that would tide us through and at the same time clean up some old items in the pantry. I even went as far as to list out the ingredients for the meals as well as the locations so that my wife could easily find my ingredients for the dinners.
Most of the dinners were really quite good and run of the mill. Frozen sausage link, mash potatoes, corn… or pasta sauce and elbow noodles. But as a stroke of luck, we even found some new meals, like a tomato/chicken/bean/rice burritos like we had for dinner tonight… man are they good.
Here is the freaky frugal discovery. Even though we literally dwindled our stores down already, I still managed to come up with 29 more meals for two out of what little we had left.
Hmmm…. that’s like a whole month of suppers without having to buy anything. Using what you already have… Now THATS frugal!
Boondock Ma (Kim's Mom) says
Some of my best creations have come from using what I could “scrounge up” from what I had on hand when running low before our shopping day.
Only drawback is I don’t tend to jot down the “recipes” for those creations as I put them together, so when I get requests for the recipe, or repeats of those dishes I can never quite duplicate them.
awesome idea! That sure is being frugal! I think I might just do that too!
Monroe on a budget says
I bet your mood perked up quite a bit when you realized you’d be OK with groceries for awhile.
My mood did improve. It was almost an ah-ha moment when I realized I had a months worth of meals lurking in a pantry that I had already raided for a month.
Once I dwindle all this stuff down and get rid of all the old stuff, I am looking forward to doing a bunch of bulk cooking again.
This is a great idea. I should totally do this. I used to do this occasionally, but never to this degree. I’m also an engineer and I live by my lists. But I haven’t had the time with a toddler and a part-time job to sit down and write out what’s in the fridge, freezer, and pantry.
I think I will do this over the weekend. After the hubby comes back from a business trip (I can barely make dinner while chasing a toddler when he’s out of town).
Over the summer I tried to see how long I could go by spending no more than $50 a week. I think I made it 12-13 weeks. By the end of that time, I’d saved up $45 (out of the $50×13 weeks) that I hadn’t spent, and our cupboards were BARE.